Posted tagged ‘gaming’

On Epicness: A Personal Take

July 29, 2013

Every week, A Paladin’s Tale does a Monday Morning Breakfast Topic. I really enjoyed their latest topic: “Why ‘epic’ no longer means epic, & what the WoW Dev team could do to resolve the issue to bring back some meaning to gear.

I find this general fixation on loot/gear to be a fascinating phenomenon, mainly because it kinda goes over my practical, practical head. Kurn also recently wrote about how loot has lost its value (and when someone who doesn’t even play the game is writing long dissertations on a topic, you know it’s a good a topic), which triggered a reaction from me.

Here is my confused interpretation of our conversation:

Me: But gear matters! It took my guild months to get our first heroic Horridon kill! Now that we have gear, he just falls over. Gear still makes a difference.
Kurn: It does matter for killing things, but with upgrades and resets every patch, gear in itself doesn’t matter.
Me: THAT MAKES NO SENSE!

What is “Epic”?

I vaguely remember in Vanilla, I’d sometimes find myself in trouble and some level 60 would stop and help me. Sometimes they would have purples. I would draw the following conclusions:

- They have a lot of time to play the game (it took me over a year to reach max level the first time).
– They have a lot of friends.
– They got lucky with the RNG.

Then I would thank them, be on my way and totally forget about the encounter.

Apparently that is the wrong reaction. The correct reaction should have supposedly been awe. But I don’t understand why I should be awed by someone who plays a lot of video games, has friends and is lucky.

I am awed by people sometimes. People with strong personalities. People who are much smarter than me. People who work hard and don’t give up. But I can’t draw any connections between those traits and having fancy WoW gear.

A Paladin’s Tale argues that LFR and crafting (and even normal mode raiding) should reward rare/blue gear instead of epic/purple (a side note on crafting, though, I find the higher level craftable gear a gazillion times harder to make than merely killing a heroic raid boss). Me, I really don’t care either way. Blue, purple, they’re just colours. What matters are the stats on them, how well those stats are used and how much those stats will assist me with a boss kill.

So, what is epic to me?

Facets of the game art, maybe. I mean, some gear pieces do look badass. (This is coming from someone who’s never transmogged anything in her WoW life, ha!) But the only things in game that feel really “epic” to me have very little, if nothing, to do with players: huge mysterious dungeons, creative bad guys (and gals), brave heroes, and beautiful details that you only notice when you stop and look around (check out Katherinne’s blog to see some of WoW’s cool details spotlighted)

In my mind, then, those worthy of my awe were never the best geared players, but rather WoW’s art, story and encounter design teams.

Motivation beyond gear

Conversation, circa the end of Dragon Soul, with a few interpretive liberties:

Healing lead: Do you need anything off Dragonwing?
Me: I thought we already killed the last boss this expansion.
Healing lead: Yeah, but do you still need anything off it?
Me: Why would I need anything? We already killed the boss.
Healing lead: You don’t make sense.
Me: YOU DON’T MAKE SENSE.

An argument that A Paladin Tale brings up, and that comes up fairly often in other discussions around the topic, is that WoW centers around making your character as strong as possible and loot is kinda the only motivation toward that.

I suppose it shouldn’t have, but the idea of the game being strong-character centric actually surprised me. I’d never thought about it in that way before.

Originally, WoW for me was just an escape from reality and thinking. Tired of writing stupid papers for school? Go kill 10 wolves. With some music playing in the background. In my early raiding days, playing the game became a fun learning experience (I love learning. It’s one of my favorite hobbies. My goal in life to learn EVERYTHING.) and an activity to do with cool people. When I got more serious about raiding, the game became about teamwork and perfecting my WoW gaming skills.

If I make my character stronger, my end goal is never her strength. I want her strong so she can keep up with the team, I want her strong as a result of me discovering how to be a better player, I want her strong so we can see content faster. Without a team, without a kill and without learning experience, her strength is worthless. WORTHLESS.

While a lot of gamers cling to the outdated notion of “people are motivated by epic gear“, I personally think that Blizzard is frontward thinking by moving away from archaically using player hierarchy as the ultimate motivator. Concentrating on making the game intrinsically fun to play and investing in potential teamwork situations (also known as “fun things to do with friends and maybe strangers who aren’t annoying“) will make the game far more adapted to the kind of gamer we want to be around in MMOs.

Me and my gear

The other day, I was in a heroic. You know, just Denouncing my way to easy VP, when the hunter whispered me.

Hunter: Sick gear!
Me (very awkward): Thank you….
Hunter: Have you been raiding long?
Me (still very awkward): Kinda. I love to raid.

I love to raid. I wanted to insist on that. Love it, love it, love it. I find working on raid days very difficult because I’m so excited to get home and raid. The hours just crawl by. The gear… The gear is nothing. I don’t want people to look at my character and be all”OMG she has fancy ilvls!“. I’d far, far rather people look at me and say “Wow, she sure loves what she does.

Some nights are rough. Raids have me in tears pretty often (one of the many reasons I’ll never stream!) and I don’t mind. In the end, I think getting through those tough moments just makes the experience more rewarding.

I love feeling us learn a new fight, I love that satisfaction when we finally “get it right” but above all, I love the teamwork. Discovering who my teammates are as people, adapting to more…difficult personalities and, most of all, sharing ups and the downs with fellow gamers from all walks of life. It’s like magic.

And there’s no loot colour in the world that could be more epic to me than that.

I Had No Idea this Required a License

February 26, 2013

I’ve been sitting on this post for awhile. Mostly out of lack of motivation. After all, I should be updating the paladin posts. They’re not going to fix themselves. But I got into a discussion with a friend on Facebook last night that inspired me to finish this.

fakegamer

So yeah, for months (or longer?) there’s been this talk of “fake gamers”. Pretty much exclusively “fake gamer” girls, because apparently being a “fake gamer” requires identifying to the female gender. Guys, it seems, do not qualify to be “fake gamers”, no matter how much their eyes glaze over when you bring them to riveting panels about fascinating games, or how lost they become during gaming nostalgia sharing sessions right after they JUST told you how much they love gaming.

Yep, no matter how much boys lie to you about their gaming habits to get into your pants (because, clearly, it is the only reason anyone lies about anything), only girls (sorry, pc people, when I write about gaming, it’s “guys” and “girls”, because “men” and “women” imply being all serious and not fun and I’m against being serious and not fun) can be “fake gamers”.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we can address the next issue (and still ignore the main question).

Why do We Care if Someone is a “Fake Gamer”?

Ok. So. As far as I know, being a gamer does not require a license. I mean, maybe I’ve been living an illegal life all these years and am totally a fake gamer because I never applied for my gaming license. Hey, none of the blogs ever mention it and no one asks to see it when I pick up my tickets to conventions. Can’t blame me for not knowing.

Gaming, on it’s own, not gaming for charity which is something different, also does not feed starving children in Africa. It does not stop poverty. It doesn’t even save the whales. It might help a little bit with education, but only for the person playing, not for everyone else. So it’s not like a huge, meaningful achievement.

It doesn’t increase a person’s social status either. While I find social status kinda silly – why does anyone care if my job pays well, whether I’m following my biological obligations to get married and reproduce and if I have a lot of politician friends? – I guess it matters to some. But gaming does not make you more socially acceptable. It actually still sometimes even has the opposite effect.

So, why the hell, are people going around pretending to be, oh I dunno, gaming police or something?

Apparently there’s even this meme on Facebook going around comparing the “fake gamer” to a “what a gamer really looks like/does”.

I can’t say I’ve ever really seen this because I have certain, um, standards when it comes to Facebook friends. But there are a lot of people on the internet who worry about weird things (I worry about weird things too, but not so much whether someone has received permission to call themselves a gamer) so I can believe that there are some who are genuinely concerned about the…authenticity? of gamer status claims.

Think of it as I might, I cannot wrap my head on Why. Why do you care about the credentials the person sitting next you at ComicCon? You’re there to watch and listen to a famous person talk about their work. That’s not a goddamn competition.

And if that person next to you is only there to impress their significant other? What happens then?

Well.

Consequences on “fake person”: They’re bored and wasted their time and money.
Consequences to you: … Nothing, really.

So start worrying about your own fun, and less about everyone elses motivation.

It’s the Media, You Say, I’m Sick of Fake Sex Being Used to Lure Me In

Various (and possibly, most) major figures (I was going to say players but that would lead to confusion) in the gaming industry do have a habit of putting a scantily clad human model with body parts that are, um, voluptuous in some places, and, um, dainty in other places next to their product in order to increase sales. Habit that it annoying to, well, pretty much anyone with a soul.

Nobody knows much about these models because their humanity is drowned out by their obnoxious body parts. Understandably, it is frustrating to be served by a pair of disembodied boobs (note, that you’re not allowed to touch) instead of a helpful, knowledgeable sales expert. At least when it comes to making gaming choices.

Know what, though? COMPANIES WOULD STOP DOING IT IF MORONS STOPPED BUYING INTO IT.

On a side note, though, this reminds me of a complaint I have about Big Bang Theory. The characters on the show started off as pretty brilliant but eventually devolved to exactly the 2-dimensional idiots gaming companies think they are catering to. This is 2013, people. Gamers like sex like everyone else, but we still live with the times. We’re demanding in 2013. We have a shitton extra needs to go with our sex needs. The media would do well to evolve with us.

Differentiating Freelance Sexy Costumes from the Media

I read a complaint post (can’t remember where) about sexy costume wearers. They were getting labelled as “fake gamers” because apparently the ability to look fantastic in skimpy clothing cannot be acquired simultaneously to the ability to operate a controller, mouse or keyboard.

The whole post (and, really, the internet in general) leads me to believe that sexy costumes (and other revealing clothing) are misunderstood.

That young lady in spandex, the one not hired by a company at the convention, is not trying to sell you anything. The one at the booth is trying to sell you something. This one here isn’t.

The young lady is wearing spandex (or latex) for the same reason you have a ridiculously large SLR camera that you don’t even know how to use hanging around your neck. She’s got something valuable she worked hard for, is proud of and wants to show off. Just like you have something valuable you’ve likely worked hard for, are proud of and want to show off. She doesn’t want to sell you her body anymore than you want to sell anyone your SLR camera.

And if you want to be proud of your body, stop eating garbage and start moving. Then you too can wear a skimpy costume that makes people smile.

On the Other Side, Is Being Called Fake Supposed to Hurt?

There was a female gaming convention awhile back (there are gaming conventions for everything, really). They did this survey and an obscenely high % of respondents said they’d been called “fake gamers”.

This has never happened to me before, at least not to my face, so I really had to stop and imagine how I’d feel if that happened.

The only thing that came to mind was “very confused”.

On one hand, as this post suggests, I would be deeply concerned about your emotional health. It’s not healthy to feel so strongly enough about gamer title legibility that you play gaming police. What can I say? I’m a caring person.

On the other hand, I’d be a little “um…ok… *scratches head*” because, really, I’m not here to prove anything with my gaming. I play games because they’re fun. I go to conventions because I want to see, in person, the geniuses who brought my favorite stories to life. I go to meetups so I can hug with MY REAL ARMS the people I have to /hug and *hug* normally. I socialize within different gaming communities so I can get super excited about stuff I love and be responded to with equal excitement. You know, instead of the amused looks I get in my everyday life.

So I cannot grasp why being “real” or “fake”, and, especially, a stranger’s silly opinion of everyone else’s realness, matters. We all have our reasons for gaming or for revolving around the gaming community. As long as we’re not deliberately stomping on someone else’s fun, who cares?

And after all that, I still never touched the great encompassing question of: WHAT THE HELL IS A FAKE GAMER ANYWAY?

ps. If you enjoy this topic, I have reflected, though a tad more seriously, on the notion of gamer/geek identity in the past (part 1 and part 2).

Obtaining and Using the Title “Gamer”

July 24, 2012

I’ve been chewing on this post since the Calgary Expo back in April and hadn’t gotten around to writing it down because…um… was April really over 3 months ago? Time just goes by so fast. Feels like the Expo was yesterday.

There’s something I’ve observed a lot in my time hanging around other gamers: a certain behaviour. A behaviour you see from gamers, from game-related marketers, and, shamefully, occasionally from myself. Maybe a tad more than occasionally, even.

The notion of what makes someone A Gamer.

Does this make me A Gamer?

Who is allowed to call themselves A Gamer?

My mother thinks video games make you stupid and lazy. But she plays an embarrassing amount of Mahjong on the computer. Is she A Gamer in spite of herself?

What about those who play Farmville, and only Farmville? Are they Gamers? They are playing a game! What if they were playing Farmville, and only Farmville, for several hours every day? Would that make them more of A Gamer?

Or perhaps being A Gamer has more to do with your past than your present. Can you be A Gamer if your parents didn’t allow you to spend time in front of a screen as a child? Can you still be A Gamer if your first game was World of Warcraft? Or what if it was even more recent? What if the very first game you played was SWTOR? Can you still call yourself A Gamer?

Maybe video gaming doesn’t cut it either. Maybe you need to play at least two TYPES of games. Can you be A Gamer if the only kind of game you play is screen-based? Or do you need to be playing video games and, say, Magic, to earn the Gamer title?

A Theory on Gaming Elitism

The notion of “elitism“, as we call it on the internet, isn’t unique to gaming.

Back when I did a lot of freestyle downhill skiing, the “I’m more of a skiier because my skis/goggles/edges are better than yours!” or “I skied out West so I’m better than you!” attitudes turned me off hanging out with other skiers. I’ve seen similar attitudes in the outdoorsmanship community too. My parents even have a friend who’s elitist about football fandom. According to him, you’re not truly football fan-ing if you’re not watching the game a certain way, with certain foods, in certain places.

So what’s up with the weird attitudes?

Well, in the skiing world, when you’re part of organized competition, you’ve got medals, awards and race histories to brag about. Success is measured and the hierarchy is easy to establish. Those of us who weren’t classified by external forces (no matter how much I begged my mother, she refused to spend tons of money to become my personal chauffeur, so competitive skiing was a no-go for me… to this day that feud still stirs up hard feelings) had to find different ways to prove ourselves. Those ways became knowledge of brands, became the level of gear we were willing to pay for, became the ski centers we frequented, became which teaching/coaching certifications we aimed for.

I suspect gaming is kind of the same. Gaming is a vast, vast world, and it’s only getting broader. Game genres like MMOs, iPhone/Android, Rock Band/Dance Central, and Facebook reach out to previously untapped markets. Certain sub-communities have official competitions – think Starcraft or Magic the Gathering – but for the most part, there’s no way to compare gamers in a hierarchical format. So each Gamer makes up their own criteria for “good gaming”, involving games played, time spent playing each game, in game achievements, gaming history and so on.

Since those criteria are totally arbitrary, one person’s criteria unavoidably clashes with someone else’s criteria, lighting up the flames of hate discussion all across the interwebs.

What makes the Gamer title even more arbitrary is how easy it is to lie. While modern games tend to track and advertise your every move to the world, your profile can’t determine whether you were carried in an MMO raid, can’t speculate how often you cheated at a puzzle game (as a huge fan of puzzle games, it often saddens me that puzzle gamers get little respect because, while puzzle games require a lot of skill to play properly, they are the easiest games to cheat at), can’t tell if your best friend ran you through all the hard levels, and can’t measure the degree to which you enjoyed your gaming experience.

“Gaining respect as A Gamer”

One of the posts within the past year that I found most thought provoking was Lynesta’s explanation of why she choose to compete in Maxim’s Pose In a Ridiculous Outfit with a Controller (that’s what the competition was, right?).

As much as I mock the contest (it’s all in good nature – I even considered entering, not because I gave a damn about winning, but because I had access to a good photographer and it pleases me to receive complements on my figure), I loved her post. She wrote from the perspective of a marketer of game paraphernalia, who works in a style of marketing where the salesperson is chosen exclusively based on their sex appeal toward a select market (horny young and creepy old straight men). Everyone assumes that actual knowledge of the product is irrelevant in that style of marketing, which, I can imagine, causes a lot of frustration to the marketer who has both the sex appeal and extensive, first hand knowledge of the product.

Her post made me think of how I like to be perceived as A Gamer. My career has nothing to do with gaming and I make no money off the blog, so any “respect” I receive as A Gamer is purely for my personal self-esteem. I thought about it, and thought about it some more and came to the conclusion that I game because I enjoy gaming. At some points in my life, I may have gamed more in order to make or keep friends or to attract admiration, but these days I play for me and only for me. If I make friends along the way, all the better, but I’ve no interest in proving anything to anybody.

I can remember a time where I thought “I’m a special snowflake! I’m an athletic chick who plays video games! I must announce this to the world!“. Even though my first gaming community (nearly 15 years ago!) was about 50/50 gender-wise and our membership included acrobats, dance instructors and bodybuilders who must have rolled their eyes at me more than once.

I like to think I’ve gotten over caring about the arbitrary gaming hierarchy, yet, sometimes I do feel a little pride when my guild, a fantastic 25s 2 nights/7 hours total a week guild, kills progression bosses faster than guilds who raid twice as much as we do. Maybe I secretly think “na-na-na-nah” to competing guild. Or when I’m guesting on a podcast and we get to the question “how did you get started as a gamer?“, I feel like I’m submitting my Gamer resume, instead of just throwing a bone to fellow old school Sierra fans who’d like a friend to geek out about King’s Quest with.

For the most part, though, for me, acceptance within the gaming community happened without me making a conscious effect. Actually, I believe that if you have to work at being accepted as A Gamer, you might not be hanging with the right sub-community. When I meet other Gamers, either at conventions or through the internet, I talk when I have something to say. When I don’t, I listen and learn. It’s simple and my gaming resume, age, gender, boob size, difficulty speaking and/or social awkwardness don’t seem to matter at all compared to the impact of how much I enjoy gaming, talking about gaming and learning about gaming.

When I walk away from an interaction with fellow Gamers, I want to think “That was so much fun!” not, “I hope I impressed them.

Conclusion “I’m more of A Gamer than you”: All Bad, or Friendly Competition?

So, what, to you, makes someone A Gamer? And, more importantly, does it matter?

I certainly believe that a little competition adds spice. There is a lot of fun to be found in playing on your own for yourself, but, as humans, we’ve got social urges too, and the pleasure of winning against other humans feel really, really good inside.

But when discussions turn bitter and someone is denied the right to talk about character leveling in World of Warcraft because they don’t do heroic raids (because character leveling has SO MUCH to with competitive raiding), or game writers receiving extreme harassment because they suggest skippable combat in games, then the whole concept of Real Gamer just makes me sick to my stomach.

As for gaining respect as A Gamer, especially for my fellow girls who, like I did years ago, feel the need to use the term “gamer girl” to define themselves, the advice I have is this:

Forget about the gaming hierarchy and play. Play with all your heart, love what you play and let the rest happen. Passion is ageless, genderless, apparent, contagious and magnetic. Gaming passion just as much.

Coming up for air after Mass Effect (*mild spoilers*)

June 16, 2012

I picked up the Mass Effect series shortly before Mass Effect 3 hit the market. Friends (notably this friend and this friend) kept telling me how much I’d love the games.

In the sci-fi vs fantasy division of the world, I’ve been sold to fantasy. It happened on my 10th birthday when my mom’s cousin bought me the first Lord of the Rings book. I’ve been fixated on medieval stuff for so long that the idea of playing a sci-fi game just didn’t get me hot and bothered. But then I liked SWTOR. And if I liked SWTOR, it wouldn’t hurt to give Mass Effect a try.

So I bought the first game for cheap during a Steam sale.

Where it all begins.

Once ME3 had been out for a little while and fans were outraged at the piss poor final moments of the series, friends started to change their minds. They urged me to stop playing, to get out before it’s too late.

I understand. They were trying to spare me heartache.

I played anyway.

I don’t regret it. I am saddened by how Bioware painted a masterpiece and, instead of putting on the finishing touch, set fire to it. My heart does ache.

Despite the unsatisfying wrap-up, though, Mass Effect did reach into me and yank my imagination to new places. For the first time in a long time, I completely lost myself in another world. They were real to me: Shepard, Garrus, Kaiden, Liara, the others. The intensity was unexpected.

As I crept close to the credits, I cried big, round, juicy tears. You know, with shaking shoulders and reaching for kleenex and the whole deal. Not because of the ending itself (which really wasn’t very moving), but because it was over. I had to cut ties with these characters and this world that had invaded my mind for a short, but powerful, time. It hurts so much, but it was so worth the journey.

Bossy Pally and Mass Effect: A Love Story

It did take me awhile to bite on. Games have come a looong way in the past 5 years. Back in the day, we were patient. We were cool learning things by ourselves. We didn’t mind not getting it right on the first try. I hadn’t realized how badly modern games have spoiled me.

Mass Effect, the first one, starts off with a short, unhelpful tutorial. Once you sort of have an idea of how combat works, you’re dumped in puzzle-adventure game mode for a few hours. Once the game is sure you’ve forgotten everything from the tutorial, it ships you off to your first real mission. Mission, of course, where the mobs easily one-shot you if you don’t move right. Mass Effect and I wouldn’t have even become friends had fellow gamers not stepped in to give me pointers.

Next thing I knew, I’d beaten the first Mass Effect three times and got all achievements except for Insanity, AI Hacking, Assault Rifle kills and 2 last companions. (Note that I did beat the game on Hardcore. Insanity will be my next run-through.)

Graphics have come a long way too!

Mass Effect 2 and 3 didn’t have the same replay value for me. It’s sort of a good thing, really. It’s that, early into ME2, I fell hard. Hard. Like falling from the 30th story onto hot, black pavement hard.

For about 3 weeks, I barely ate, I barely slept. I spent my work hours in a daze, counting the minutes until I could go home and play. Any breaks I took involved me lying on the couch with cold compresses on my eyes, trying to relieve the strain of staring at a computer screen for hours on end (I know, I know, I should have gotten the 360 version). I played the fuck out of the game.

Aaaand the ME2 Shepard!

Same goes for Mass Effect 3 (which was included in the 3 weeks of obsessive gaming). I lived the story, I left no stone unturned. I redid a few missions to see how they could go differently. I even had to restart ME3 a few times, just to get Shepard to look the way I wanted.

That’s what happens when you wait until you’re finished the game to take all your screenshots: boring pics from your last save.

It’s a huge emotional investment, you know, getting involved in a game like that.

Commander Shepard

I think someone asked me once what the appeal of Commander Shepard is. I was still playing the first game on repeat at the time so I didn’t know the answer. Shortly into ME2, the answer is obvious:

Shepard is the space hero every kid dreams of being.

The game even takes into account that while every kid has, at some point, dreamed of being a space hero, our space heroes differ in flavor . And for the first time, I had a game who let me be a space hero the way I wanted to be a space hero.

I found that the first game gave me the most freedom to explore Shepard’s personality. As the series advances, her personality, interests and limits were a bit more pre-determined. I’m not sure what I think of it. On one hand, I missed being able to make Shepard exactly the way I want, on the other hand, I did enjoy just sitting back and being surprised by her reactions. I guess that as the game went on, she felt less like a fantasy-enhanced version of myself and more like a friend that I really click with.

The stats are what? 18% of players play as FemShep? Sounds low, but it does translate to 1 out of 5, which could be right. I loved FemShep. I’ve never been one to care much about my representation in the media, but I definitely enjoy a chunk of media more when I can relate to the main character. Generally strong female leads tend to be portrayed as men with a woman’s body. Or they start out good, only to succumb to Western society’s notion that in order to be happy, a woman must fall in love with daddy-figure and trade in her life of adventuring for diaper changing.

They did a good job with FemShep. She’s tough, she’s logical, she can hold her liquor pretty good but she’s got a warmth about her that makes her feel like your girlfriend. I’d totally have a girls’ night out with FemShep any day. And in her romances (at least the ones with Kaiden, Liara and Garrus – but I’m sure Jacob and Thane follow the same pattern), her partners are drawn to her because they admire her. It’s refreshing.

Between the excellent writing and Jennifer Hale’s brilliant voice acting, I can’t even imagine what Shepard would be like as a guy. It just wouldn’t seem right. (Though I’m sure I’ll do one playthrough as BroShep, just to see. Plus, I’ve met Mark Meer and that man has a sexy, sexy voice.)

Leaving the Mass Effect Universe

I’d only been playing for a few weeks and I was prepared for disappointment, so my last impression was one of “could have been worse“. No matter what direction the story had gone, I would have still sobbed my poor little heart out, not because of the story, but because it had ended.

But I definitely feel for the long time fans who’d been waiting years to save (or gleefully destroy) the galaxy. Had I not been expecting a let-down, the random, half assed ending would have felt like a slap in the face to me too.

I can’t, for the life me, understand how anyone thought this would be a good idea. (I’ve also heard accusations that the Mass Effect ending was plagiarized from Deus Ex but I’m not familiar enough with Deus Ex to judge.) The first two games had excellent endings. And they were simple endings. Mass Effect ends with a “good job”, Mass Effect 2 ends with “lets bury the dead if necessary and submit our reports”. Both were predictable, because, well, that’s how epic stories end.

Mass Effect 3 could have easily gotten away with “lets start rebuilding the galaxy and show how all our favorite characters are getting on with their lives”. Have Shepard-alive and Shepard-dead endings (some people prefer their heroes to live happily ever after, others prefer sacrifices). So what if it’s not creative? The entire series was creative. Mass Effect took video games and storytelling and world building and science fiction to freaky levels. There was no need to try to fit a weird last minute twist into the story.

I can’t speak for everyone, of course, but personally, what I would need in an ending to get a perfect experience of the game is a slow tribute to the main characters and to the world they lived in. A gentle disconnect from the mindspace I’d submerged myself in. Some time to pay my respects.

Basically, a proper chance to say goodbye.

The Quintessential New Years Post

January 1, 2012

I actually had to look “quintessential” up since I didn’t know it’s exact meaning. My use of it is misleading since I’m not writing a list specific resolutions, thus making this post not a quintessential New Years post. But it’s such a fun word that I refuse to change it. This is my blog and I can name my posts whatever I want. So there.

I hope everyone welcomed in the New Year is a good way. (And yes, I consider sleeping to be a good way!)

I found that while Christmas Eve made me miss my family (my parents are building their new house and don’t have a phone or stable internet yet so I couldn’t talk to them), New Year’s Eve made me miss my hometown.

Generally I appreciate my quiet, hardworking new compatriots (being a quiet, sortof hardworking person, I fit right in), but for one night, I missed the rowdy, overly affectionate way we highlight the changing of years. Americans talk about kissing someone for New Years. I think this is the first time in my adult life (with the exception of the New Years I spent in California with Clockwork Bard, where we cooked all day and ended up spending New Years half passed out on the couch, watching Serenity) where I don’t lock lips with what feels like half of Québec city. But it was nice to meet some other young people in town, I had a blast chasing the kids around the house, and OMG I’m hooked on Dance Central. I’m heading to WalMart like RIGHT NOW to buy an XBox Kinect.

I wasn’t going to do a New Years post, but after reading everyone elses, I feel like I have things to say.

Of Resolutions and stuff

I don’t do resolutions because when I decide to make a change, I just do. I don’t wait until a special occasion. Last year was an exception – as I was thinking about 2010, I reflected on how much blogging (aka learning to really write) has had a positive impact on my life. Speaking is extremely difficult for me so I need to rely on writing to get by. Blogging helped me develop writing skills and throughout that year, those skills opened a lot of doors for me. I was suddenly angry that not everyone receives that opportunity: there are tons of Canadians who are illiterate. So I resolved to become involved in literacy.

Which I didn’t do.

The closest I came was writing a 3 part FAQ on blogging (part 1, part 2, part 3).

But maybe this year I will. My town does have a literacy program. It focuses on English Second Language, not on primary literacy, but it’s still a step in the right direction.

2011 in Blogging

My most read post in 2011 was actually written in 2010 so it doesn’t count. It was that post on Holy Paladin reforging. It’s so terribly outdated too. I cringe whenever I see the hits come in from search engines.

Otherwise, 2011 was pretty quiet on the blog. My real life was hectic with clerkships, graduation, Pharmacy Board Licensing exams, moving across the country, my parents selling the house I grew up in and building my new career (made especially difficult by the fact that the store I was sent to was in terrible, terrible condition when I got there). Blogging obviously took the hit, with real life holding my interest far more than my virtual one.

I don’t believe I did any real comedy posts. I miss writing funny posts (I’m very proud of WoW on the First Date), but I’m:

1)just too tired to look at the world in an amusing way
2)too comfortable in the blogging world to feel the need to rely on jokes.

Let me take a nap, then pull the rug out from under me. Should make me spill comedy posts all over the place.

Anyway, my favorite posts of 2011:

WoW and The Social Contract

This post completely summarizes my attitude toward guilds and playing with guildies vs playing with strangers. Accept the Social Contract in your guild life, accept that PuGs are very close to a state of nature (there is a social contract in PuGs, but it’s very temporary and very shallow), and your WoW life will be way less stressful.

How to Keep Shyness from Ruining Your Game

I usually write about social phobia in a comical way because I believe that my eccentricities should be used positively. And thus I clumsily attempt to turn them into an art form for the enjoyment of all.

I get annoyed at the social premise that shyness is bad and should be eradicated at all costs. Obviously, a crippling mental illness that prevents you from enjoying the things you’d like to enjoy in life is bad. And social phobia/anxiety is that horrible mental illness.

But there are ways to work around shyness to get what you want out of life without changing who you are as a person. It’s totally possible to live a satisfying life (and play multiplayer games…we’re still talking about WoW, right?) and love yourself while being a shy person.

When I started ignoring those who want to turn me into a social butterfly, I came to like being shy. Being shy forces me to think more, it forces me to appreciate the people in my life more, it makes me appear to be a gentler, calmer, more sensitive person, it teaches me empathy, it prevents me from acting impulsively, and it inspires me creatively.

So yeah, social phobia = bad, but shyness = neutral personality trait with a shitton of upsides.

Don’t let shyness ruin your game.

The 5 Traits I Want in a Leader

This post was so much fun (and so therapeutic) to write. The grievances I hold against my past guilds (all woopin’ two of them) are all leadership-related. So I thought about the WoW leaders I enjoyed working with, and what about them made me tick.

It’s a personal post. Different people appreciate different leadership styles. That post was me, reflecting on which style makes me happiest.

Onto 2012

I make no promises. I have lots of blogging ideas for both this blog as well as the Giant Spoon without the Pally one, but so little energy. I’d like to write lots of funny posts. I’d like to share more travel stories. I’d like to talk about paladins more. But “like to” is not a promise. I do what I can do, and accept what I cannot do.

I hope to play more different games. I hope to play different games with the guildies that I’m about to leave.

I’ve always been the type of person who plays the shit out of a game, them moves onto another game with shit that needs to be played out of it. It’s impossible to play the shit out of WoW, so I haven’t played many other games. And I’ll say that it’s kind of embarrassing, when asked about my gaming, to say that I haven’t played much other than WoW in years.

I’m not done with WoW and you’ll probably see me around in each expansion to come. But maybe hell will freeze over and I’ll have a year where my real life is stable (stability bores me, but maybe gaming will help), maybe I’ll expand my gaming horizons a teensy bit.

And with that,

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

Is this growing up?

November 28, 2011

A few days ago, or maybe it was a few weeks ago, my guild decided to take a look at our loot system to see where we can makes some tweaks. We do, however, need to accommodate our More Focused, More Disciplined For More Kills attitude with a modern, attitude-appropriate loot system.

What happens when you bring up loot issues in a guild like mine?

That’s right.

Tumbleweed.

After about a week of poking and prodding, a few people finally spoke up and we got a bit of discussion going after last Tuesday’s raid.

I had no loot related photo, so I selected our other heated topic: the ethics of football talk. (Know that if Dralo and I agree on something, its gotta be srs bzn!)

To a group of people who don’t like to rock the boat, it was probably shocking, but I enjoyed it. The resulting dynamics were wonderful to discover. I felt like it was the first time I really got know my guildies as actual people and not just fellow raiders, and I love them all the more for it. Plus, some of them are kinda sexy when they yell. (But shhhh don’t let them know I said that! Can’t afford to be sued for sexual harassment.)

And me? The general me?

I’m playing once in awhile, still getting critted by work. I love my job, but dammit there is a lot of job. I’d estimate I do at least 2 hours of unpaid work a day, on top of my normal shift. I’ve become very fast, very efficient, but I can’t stop to think. Stop and you drown.

It’s still better than school. Don’t get me wrong. It’s WAY better than school. Those people who talk about how college is wonderful, a joke, the life? Liars or idiots.

Or people who didn’t do enough college to know what it’s really like beyond the first four undergrad years.

Ah, Nunu helping me with blog post research. Over 2 years ago. I wonder what's become of him.

I’ve always felt like college was sacrificing 10 years of my life. 10 years without significant romantic relationships (I know, I know, some students manage to have significant others while in college, but I couldn’t manage it. Us stupid people have to dedicate 100% of our energy to the books just to get by). 10 years of limited friendships. 10 years where I couldn’t start a family. 10 years of not being able to afford a car/a smartphone/the kind of food I like/having my own living space.

I love Nerzhul

You know, I get a half smile when I hear someone talk about gaming making them/their friend/their spouse/their cousin/their pet drop out of college. Gaming is what got me through school. Castle of Doctor Brain, Super Mario Brothers, Zelda, that NHL game where you can make the guys fight and Commander Keen got me through grade school. Kings Quest, Space Quest, Might and Magic and Final Fantasy got me through high school. Final Fantasy and WoW got me through college (10 whole years of it, sdsfgklsdjflsdkj).

Good ol'Conquest days

Thank goodness for gaming. And for the Final Fantasy message boards, the Red Tears, the Conquests and the Team Sports of this world.

It is worth it in the end. Even though it took forever to get where I am, and where I am is still a bit rough, I love the freedom that comes with having a secure job, and a job that is in high demand. And even beyond the job, I’m happy for the lessons I learned. I had to sacrifice a lot to get where I was, but it taught me to persevere, to live on very little, and it taught me to be patient.

I raid two nights a week. I level an alt for a couple hours sometimes. I plan on giving Star Wars a casual run. I might get Skyrim. But generally gaming is something I think about and say “…oh yes… I liked that once…” I say that about chocolate too. Gaming and sweets. The two things I’ve lost appetite for.

Nothing like the pewpews of 25 raiders

Now that I finally have somewhat a shred of control over my life, is it that I don’t need gaming anymore?

Is this growing up?

Double O podcast Episode 2 is up!

May 1, 2011

Check out the second episode of the Double O podcast!

I’m really, really excited about it. Ok, I know I’m always excited about our podcasts. But our topic, gaming addiction, is one that’s very close to the field I’m trying to specialize in in real life (substance abuse and dependence pharmacy) so I was particularly enthusiastic and I think it shows. I didn’t have to chop as many silences out of my speech as usual.

We also had a special guest, as close to an expert on the topic that exists right now, our blogosphere’s own Lady Erinia. She’s a wonderful, knowledgeable speaker and I hope you all enjoy her presence on the podcast as much as I did.

I know the intro music fades out a bit too fast. I’m using Audacity now, instead of that nasty Traverso that bailed on me last time. Audacity is fantastic in a lot of aspects (like not crashing after my every action), but effects are bit more annoying to work with. By the time I was finished snipping and ready to add the music, I was too fed up to figure out how to get the perfect sound. Next time will be better!

A Point on Addiction and Insight

On the podcast, I made a mistake that I want to clarify. If you’ve heard the podcast, you’ll be scratching your head because I cleverly chopped out that part along with any references to it. But I did originally say that to meet the criteria for addiction, you need to have tried to quit (or wanted to quit) and failed.

While this is part of the criteria, how the diagnosis of addiction works is that there are 7 criteria (including wanting/trying unsuccessfully to quit), but you only need to meet 3 out of the 7.

That said, I think that with gaming addiction, in order for it to be an addiction, there has to be some level of insight (meaning you’re aware) – addiction is a very extreme condition – but given the stigma associated with both gaming and addiction, it is very possible to know there’s problem, but not want to admit it.

Anyway, I hope we came across as non-judgmental and easy to understand on the show, and still managed to be somewhat entertaining despite the serious and sciency topic.

Want to be a guest on the show?

We’ve been getting a lot of requests from people wanting to be guests on the show. That’s awesome! We love having guests!

I haven’t run this through Oestrus yet and will do that before I make any official statements on the podcast webpage, but my answer for now to anyone who’d like to be a guest is to suggest an area of expertise you have and that you think would make a good theme for an episode. We like to have specific topics (and we especially like controversial) for each of our shows, so let us know what you want to talk about.

Note too that our podcast is bi-weekly so, while we’ll probably love to have you on the show, it might take a few months before we can accommodate everyone.


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